Smooth Sailing in San Diego

On our most recent cruise, one of the ports new to us was San Diego. Not the city, the port. We’ve spent a lot of time in the city, but coming at it from the water was new, enlightening and a little chaotic.

Last year, we disembarked at the port in New Orleans, to be finger-printed (no choice) and be fast-tracked in slow lines only because we hired a luggage porter. Before that, landing at San Pedro (Los Angeles), it was like Disneyland…huge lines through the ropes before even getting off the ship.

San Diego was easy. We should mention that all three ships we’re talking about here were about the same size: 2,000 or so passengers. We left our stateroom to clear customs at about 7:50. We were back in the room by 8:03. Our assigned time to disembark was 10:30, but everything was going so quickly that they called for all remaining passengers to disembark about 20 minutes before that, and there was minimal delay in locating luggage.

Is it a credit to the cruise line, in this case Celebrity? Is it the customs and immigration people? The port? Who knows? All we know is it was flawless.

And then the fun began.

The Carnival Elation was unloading its 2,000 or so passengers about the same time, so you had 4,000 people trying to get off the pier in a 90-minute window. Lines for taxis were long. Inside the terminal, bus tickets for the airport were $10. Outside the terminal, shuttle tickets to the airport were $5. Unlike San Juan (Puerto Rico), where our cruise began, there was no per-bag handling charge.

From the ship, we could see planes landing at San Diego International. Getting there meant two right turns and a U-turn in congested traffic before turning left, the direction of the airport. With aircraft carriers and the pretty San Diego waterfront for scenery, the trip’s worth more than five bucks and a tip.

That’s it…we’re done.

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